PHOENIX, Ariz. (July 11, 2016) – The Arizona State House and Senate leadership soundly rejected the principles of the Founding Fathers during the 2016 legislative session. They protected the Washington D.C. status quo by killing 18 bills that would have blocked the federal enforcement of various unconstitutional programs. To make matters worse, most of the legislative acts did not even receive a vote in their respective chambers.
The rundown of key legislation that failed in Arizona this year is as follows:
Rep. Anthony Kern, Rep. Darin Mitchell and Rep. Steve Montenegro introduced House Bill 2300 (HB2300) to prohibit any state or local agency and their employees from “knowingly and willingly” participating in any way in the enforcement of any future federal act, law, order, rule or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition “that infringes the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution or that impairs that right in violation of Article 2, Section 26 of the Arizona constitution.” The bill would have also banned the use of state assets or money in the enforcement of future federal gun laws.
HB2300 passed the House by a vote of 35-24 in February. The Senate Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility Committee and Senate Rules Committee both approved the bill, and it was expected to hit the Senate floor shortly afterward. However, that never happened because HB2300 was retained in the Committee of the Whole without a vote, effectively killing the bill. The reason: intense law enforcement opposition. The bill’s proponents ultimately decided that it was better to pull the bill and take another shot at it next year rather than have it voted down.
Another bill was introduced in the Senate to protect firearm rights as well. Sen. Sylvia Allen introduced Senate Bill 1452 (SB1452) to deny state-level support to federal executive orders that violate the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. It passed the Senate by a 19-11 vote, but it never went to the House floor. SB1452 failed in the House Rules Committee because Chairman David Stevens killed the bill by refusing to schedule it for a vote.
Rep. Bob Thorpe and a coalition of 12 co-sponsors introduced House Bill 2201 (HB2201) earlier this year. The legislation codified the right for “the legislature [to] enact legislation, with the approval of the governor, that prohibits this state and any county, city or town of this state from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any action of the united states government that constitutes commandeering.” The bill was ultimately killed in the Senate. That chamber narrowly voted HB2201 down by a 14-15 vote on Apr. 5. After a motion to re-consider was passed, it received another vote. The total for the second vote was a 15-15 deadlock, which meant the bill could not pass. House Bill 2024 (HB2024) was introduced by Rep. Mark Finchem with similar provisions as HB2201, but the bill was altered in the House Federalism and States’ Rights committee and replaced by completely different language changing the intent of the legislation.
Sen. David C. Farnsworth and Rep. Doug Coleman introduced Senate Bill 1141 (SB1141) to define constitutional legal tender and establish gold and silver coin for use in the marketplace as currency. It read, in part, “Legal tender and specie are money and are not subject to regulation as property other than money.” Sen. Farnsworth also introduced Senate Bill 1423 (SB1423) to define gold and silver coins as money and repeal all state taxes on their exchange. SB1141 passed the Senate by an 18-11 vote, and passed the House by a 33-24 vote. SB1141 was placed on Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk, but he vetoed the legislation, effectively killing the bill. SB1423 passed the Senate by a 17-12 vote, but never made it to the House floor.
A coalition of seven Republican representatives in Arizona introduced House Bill 2370 (HB2370) to prohibit the state from using any personnel or state financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any action of the United States government that places within the state any refugee, unaccompanied alien child or other person who is not a citizen of the United States unless they have undergone a thorough background check and the federal government has agreed to reimburse the state of Arizona for any expenses incurred in the resettlement process, including ongoing costs. The bill passed two House committees, but Speaker David Gowan and Majority Leader Steve Montenegro killed the bill on the House floor by refusing to schedule it for a vote.
COMMON CORE AND STUDENT DATA PRIVACY
Three bills were introduced this year to protect Arizona children from federally-driven educational standards and predatory data sharing agreements. Introduced by Sen. Sylvia Allen, Senate Bill 1455 (SB1455) would have made it explicitly clear that parents have the right to opt their children out of “any learning material or activity on the basis that it is harmful… [including] objection to a material or activity because it questions beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion.” Rep. Phil Lovas and Rep. David Livingston introduced House Bill 2582 (HB2582) while Sen. Judy Burges and 10 co-sponsors introduced Senate Bill 1389 (SB1389) to protect the personally identifiable information of students. Both bills would have stopped the personally identifiable information of students from being accessed and shared without parental permission. They would have also banned state programs and national partnerships that facilitate the tracking and profiling of students based on data collection. None of these bills achieved success. SB1455 was voted down in the Senate by an 11-18 margin. HB2582 was killed in the House Education Committee by Chairman Paul Boyer after he refused to schedule the bill for a vote. SB1389 was killed in the Senate Rules Committee by Chairman Andy Biggs who would not schedule that bill for a vote.
Senate Bill 1352 (SB1352) was introduced by Rep. Jeff Dial to create basic restrictions for state government officials to access electronic data and communications. With the exception of certain emergency circumstances, SB1352 would have banned government officials from accessing electronic communications information from a service provider, from anyone other than the designated owner of the device, or from accessing the device themselves without a lawful warrant. If government officials refused to follow the provisions under the bill, the victims were allowed to sue in civil court for redress. Unfortunately, SB1352 was held in the House Judiciary Committee where Chairman Eddie Farnsworth killed it by refusing to schedule it for a vote.
Introduced by State Sen. Judy Burges, Senate Bill 1437 (SB1437) declared that any attempts to use of the laws of war in the state of Arizona were unconstitutional. It directly addressed various powers that were unlawfully assumed by the federal government in recent years, including indefinite detention, assassination and rendition. The bill had some initial success. It passed the Senate with an 18-12 vote. The House passed the bill with a 34-23 vote with amendments that essentially rendered the legislation meaningless. .
Rep. Bob Thorpe and Rep. Brenda Barton introduced House Bill 2369 (HB2369) to change Arizona law by requiring a criminal conviction before prosecutors could proceed with asset forfeiture. Under current law, the state can seize assets even if a person is never found guilty of a crime. The bill would have also set more stringent limits on how agencies can spend money procured through asset forfeiture. This provision would have curbed the policing for profit motive inherent in the current law. Unfortunately, the bill was held in the House Judiciary Committee where Chairman Eddie Farnsworth killed it by refusing to even schedule it for a vote.
House Bill 2006 (HB2006) and House Bill 2007 (HB2007) were introduced by Rep. Mark Cardenas. HB2006 would have legalized marijuana for recreational use while HB2007 would have simply decriminalized simple possession the plant. Rep. Jay Lawrence also introduced HCR2019 to bypass the governor and allow voters to approve a state-wide medical marijuana program directly. Rep. Vince Leach introduced House Bill 2405 (HB2405) as well to legalize medical marijuana, and Rep. Juan Jose Mendez also introduced HB2406) to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
None of these bills had success. HB2006, HB2007, and HCR2019 were held in the House Judiciary Committee where Chairman Eddie Farnsworth killed them by refusing to schedule the bills for a vote. HB2406 was killed in the House Rules Committee by Chairman David Stevens who refused to schedule it for a vote. HB2405 passed its House committee hearings, but was killed after the House vote failed to reach the necessary two-thirds threshold needed to move the bill forward.
Rep. Juan Jose Mendez introduced House Bill 2275 (HB2275) along with eight co-sponsors to create mandatory labeling requirements for food products that contain genetically-modified organisms. It would have mandated for “food that is offered for sale by a retailer [to] be labeled as produced entirely or in part from genetic engineering if it is a product that is offered for retail sale in this state and is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering.” Violators could have faced fines of up to $1000 per day under the penalty provisions in HB2275. The legislation failed in the House Rules Committee because Chairman David Stevens killed HB2275 by refusing to schedule it for a vote.
Although the state of Arizona has let many chances to push back against federal overreach fall through their grasp this year, hope is not lost. The legislators who refused to uphold their oath to the Constitution and killed these bills are now more vulnerable than ever. Remember to alert your community about who is jeopardizing your rights. From that point, the legislature can be remade with individuals with the backbone to protect your freedoms through nullification.
The process can be a long, hard and ugly one, but it can pay off. Many of the states that are currently passing several nullification bills each year were in Arizona’s situation not too long ago. However, activists in those states steadfastly refused to give up and successfully pushed their legislators to do the right thing. That is the future that Arizona can achieve, but it is going to take some determination to get there. Will you join us and help make it happen?
Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.